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Astrophysicist Tapped As New NSF Director

Leadership: France Córdova, currently acting director, gets nod from President

by Susan R. Morrissey
August 1, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 31

Credit: Purdue University Photo
Photo of  France A. Córdova.
Credit: Purdue University Photo

President Barack Obama has nominated astrophysicist France A. Córdova, president emerita of Purdue University, to serve as the next NSF director. Cora B. Marrett has been acting director at NSF since March when Subra Suresh left to become president of Carnegie Mellon University.

Córdova, 66, has significant administrative experience. At present, she is chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents and a member of the National Science Board, NSF’s governing body.

She led Purdue from 2007 to 2012. Prior to that, she served for five years as chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, where she was a professor of physics and astronomy. She was vice chancellor for research and a professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara from 1996 to 2002 and head of the astronomy and astrophysics department at the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania from 1989 to 1993.

Córdova also has government experience. She was NASA’s chief scientist from 1993 to 1996 and on staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1979 to 1989, the last two years as deputy group leader in the Earth & Space Science Division.

Córdova holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from Caltech.

Nominees for the NSF director position must be confirmed by the Senate, which Córdova now awaits.


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